Stella's crime for which she must be burnt is that she dared to dismantle the mafia that have controlled Nigeria's aviation industry since the 70s. The same people who were comfortable while planes were literally falling from Nigerian skies under Prof Babalola Borishade, Femi Fani Kayode and other past ministers have found their voice because Madam Stella has threatened their stranglehold on the aviation industry.
All manner of lies and half truths are being churned out daily since the initial allegation of ethnic cleansing against her was decisively dismissed with data obtained from the aviation ministry.
Even pilot mistakes leading to air disasters were used against her with mundane questions like "why didn't the Minister train the pilots". Haba Nigerians, how many times will they fool you and use you to fight their dirty stomach wars? Can't you see that "Aluu" beckons?
In case you are not familiar with details of the latest plot against Minister Oduah, let me help you.
Princess Stella Oduah-Ogiemwonyi, wife of former minister of works, Engr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, was appointed aviation minister in July 2011. She holds Bachelors and Masters Degree (in Accounting and Business Administration respectively) from the United States and worked with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for 9 years before she left to establish the Sea Petroleum & Gas Company Limited (SPG), an independent marketer of petroleum products in Nigeria in 1993. She was also actively involved in the Jonathan 2011 election campaigns.
Upon her resumption at the aviation ministry, she set about reforming the industry with a view to removing the cancer that has eaten deep into the ministry and contributed to aircrafts falling off Nigerian skies. From 1973 to date, Nigeria has suffered at least 11 major air disasters including Royal Jordanian Airline crash in Kano in 1973, Nigerian Airways (1978), Harka Air (1995), Nigerian Airways (1995), ADC (1996), EAS Airline (2002), Bellview (2005), Sosoliso (2005), Airforce Transport plane (2006), Dana (2012) and Associated Airline (2013) have been recorded in Nigeria. There were other "minor' crashes including the crash of a private plane at Obudu that killed 3 on-board in 2008. There was also the Nigerian Airforce (NAF) C-130 plane crash of 26 September 1992 that killed about 168 military officers, mostly of the rank of Major.
These incidents rained tears and sorrow on Nigerians from our skies and while it is true that air accidents occur regularly even in developed countries, Nigerians were worried about the frequency and demanded all round improvements in the aviation sector.
The mantle fell on Princess Adaeze Oduah to fashion out and execute sustainable improvements in the aviation sector. To do that she must necessarily change the way things are done in the ministry as it was obvious to informed Nigerians that the sector has been on the decline for long. A time was (1958-2003) when we had a flag carrier, Nigerian Airways, with as much as 30 aircrafts in their fleet. While mis-management, corruption, and overstaffing were identified as reasons behind the demise of Nigeria Airways, it is noteworthy that nobody went to jail because of Nigerian Airways. The same individuals who mismanaged the company were recycled back to the aviation system where they constituted themselves into a mafia that control what happens in the sector. They midwifed the failed Virgin Nigeria arrangement that forced Mr Richard Branson to later cry about the way business is done in Nigeria. At the same time most of the staff of the Nigerian Airways were smuggled back to the aviation system even when overstaffing was identified as one of the reasons for failure of Nigerian Airways. What nobody dare talk about is even the quality of the staff that "overstaffed" Nigerian Airways or how that quality continues to bestride the aviation ministry.
Equally challenging for Oduah must be the sundry agreements and concessions entered into by previous leaders of the aviation sector in collaboration with political leaders of Nigeria. Typical examples are the Bi-courtney, Pan Express and Maevis agreements which had clauses that ensure that the beneficiaries perpetually milk our aviation sector. Note carefully that all these agreements were floated by same people who grounded Nigerian airways. They literally "enter" every new aviation minister or head of an aviation parastatal by first corrupting them with gifts and praises on appointment as well as showing them one or two ways money can be made illegally. If the minister or agency head "cooperates" with them, he or she will have a peaceful long reign and retire in wealth. But if the new head tries to radically tilt the balance against them, they start with threats of media war, blackmail and ultimately threat to life. I listened to a friend describe how the Bi-Courtney agreement emerged and shook my head so hard that it almost fell off my shoulder. Even associations operating in the aviation sector like Association of Airline Operators of Nigeria (AON), Air Transport Service Senior Staff Association (ATSSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) are all neck deep in the rot in aviation. They also have firm control of the media with their enormous capacity to "induce and deduce"
If most Nigerians know what goes on in that sector, they will ask Stella Oduah to line everyone associated with the aviation ministry and shoot them at pointblank range. Fortunately or unfortunately, Nigeria is not China so she must necessarily walk a different path to bring change or choose to smile through her regime like one of her predecessors. But I will like Nigerians to quietly find out why Kema Chikwe and Stella Odua remain the best ministers of aviation and also the most hated among the members of aviation round table. Try and ask all the other ministers that lynch mobs were not arranged for specific changes they made to the industry. You will likely listen to one long speech without substance but you only need to check out their personal finances to know that aviation life was good to them.
Stella Oduah did not only review the anti-people agreements and concessions previously entered into by ministers before her, she started an aggressive facility expansion with zeal. (I typed this piece looking at the 90% completed new PH Airport terminal at Omagwa). Most of our airports are wearing new looks just within 2 years of "Stellanization" of aviation ministry. Makes you want to ask what other ministers have been doing since 40 years ago. Total radar coverage of Nigeria airspace was pursued with vigor and new modern whether measurement equipment installed at major airports as well as state of technology night vision equipments. Runways and terminal buildings were expanded, refurbished and modernized in addition to training and retraining of staff of aviation regulatory agencies like NCAA, FAAN and TRANCON now undertaken at regular and routine basis. Anti-Nigeria bilateral air service agreements (BASA) with foreign airlines were reviewed and equity ensured. She also established a state of the technology aviation laboratory at Abuja that ended the era of "sending blackbox to USA". (It is on record that within one week of the Agagu plane crash, the blackbox was analyzed at Abuja and initial reports including onboard conversations published). Things are looking up within 2 short years and nobody in the industry argues that Stella has not done better than others before her. Even the Presidency recently confirmed her top performance credentials.
Stella is fighting the system (corruption) armed only with presidential support and the system (corruption) is fighting back.
First they tried to whip up ethnic sentiments, a sure winning card in Nigeria, against her by alleging "ethnic cleansing" in the ministry. The ministry was forced to leak out the staff composition of the ministry by state of origin and it became clear that the supposedly "cleansed" ethnic group still constitute 64% of the staff strength of the ministry. That campaign abated and of course they also got a new DG of NCAA after their own heart, Captain Folayele Akinkuotu, to assuage their anger after the sack of DG Harold Demuren following the Dana plane crash.. The much maligned Acting DG left the scene brutalized by the mafians.
But the launching of international commercial flights to Enugu Airport with lavish celebration by Nigerians of Igbo origin must have rankled the aviation mafia seriously. They literally declared war on Oduah and the threat on her life emerged in the public space around that period..
No doubt, one of the implications of the the Enugu International Airport breakthrough after 53 years of Nigeria's independence is that Lagos Airport will likely lose traffic to Enugu with conservative estimates of about 30% passenger traffic loss. That can only mean less money for those who control every passenger check desk at Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Even local flights traffic to Lagos is expected to be impacted as Enugu grows into a major International hub to Asia, South Africa, Israel, America and Europe. It is no secret within aviation circles that the bulk of passengers going to China, Malaysia, India, Israel, Taiwan, UAE and South Africa are traders from the South Eastern part of Nigeria. Those traders are also the easiest targets for extortionists at MM Airport because they are hardly aware of or conscious of their rights and so can easily be manipulated to part with valuable money and materials. If they now travel through Enugu you can naturally also expect faster pace of development within the South Eastern economic block. Tourism, transport business and other aviation support services will grow and bloom.
An economically buoyant south east should help Governor Fashola achieve lega